Healthy House Plants
04 February 2020
It is well-known that plants absorb carbon dioxide and give-out oxygen; but a lesser-known fact is that they can absorb contaminants in the air and literally clean the atmosphere. In reality, even if you had enough plants in a room to absorb all the carbon dioxide in it (and that would be a lot!), it would only increase the oxygen level by less than 1%. And most plants, during the night, give out up to 50% of the carbon dioxide they absorb in the daytime! Although this oxygenating quality makes little difference to air quality, plants’ ability to ionise really does.
They emit negative ions which make a real difference to the level of pollutants in a closed environment. Houses and offices are particularly prone to a build-up of contaminants in winter when windows and doors are more prone to be closed. Pollutants can come from outside from vehicles and industry or inside from décor, adhesives, paints, lacquers, sprays, cleaning products and PVC (vinyl fixtures and fittings, foams, padding, flooring etc). And plants can make a real difference. An experiment carried out by the University of Sydney found that a few Kentia palms in a closed room for 24 hours removed 90% of the benzene (from vehicle pollution); and one Peace Lily removed 15% of benzene. You can buy ionisers which are clearly more effective, but having houseplants will make a real difference to the levels of contaminants and the long-term health and well-being of those that spend a lot of time within the four walls.
It could have been named by the late Bernard Manning (ask your Dad if you’ve never heard of him) but it is really easy. It will grow in any light conditions. Just don’t over-water and let it dry-out between waterings. Spider Plant. This is another doddle of a plant to look after. It will grow in any light, except fierce direct sun and only needs watering once a week. It likes being misted every couple of days or so.
A close relative of the rubber plant but it does not like direct sun or cold drafts or wet compost. On the plus side, it is otherwise easy and only needs watering once a week. If the plants are pot-bound when you buy them (roots filling the pot with little compost left) pot-on into a bigger container, with good drainage.
Contaminants in the atmosphere will start to reduce almost immediately and you should start to notice an improvement in your general health, such as less severe and shorter-lasting colds and “bugs”, increased energy and maybe the introduction of plants might make the environment less stressful; and remember that the more you have the merrier you will become.